Houzan Mahmoud: Smoke Coming From My Soul

Kurdish Women’s Stories is the brainchild of Houzan Mahmoud, a Kurdish writer, public lecturer and anti-war activist. Unforgettable and deeply moving, it’s a vitally important book which goes beyond the common depiction of women simply as victims of war, and beyond stereotypical depictions of Kurdish fighters. Mahmoud herself grew up as part of a family of Peshmerga fighters in the 1970s and 80s before going into exile. Here she has brought together women aged between 20 and 70 years old to represent the diversity of voices from different generations. All have retained pride and dignity in the face of dictatorial regimes.

In this event, filmed live at the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival, Mahmoud is joined remotely by two of the contributors to the anthology: Avan Omar, an artist born in South Kurdistan who studied for a Masters in Fine Art at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem in the Netherlands; and Kobra Banehi, a former political prisoner who was arrested for her leftist activism and sentenced to three years in prison in Iran. Together they share some of the Kurdish women’s stories and explore the challenges of understanding an ethnic identity which is not even recognised by the Turkish government.

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